CHESTER COUNTY

Child poverty increased dramatically

WEST CHESTER Child poverty in the state's wealthiest county rose more dramatically than in any other Pennsylvania suburb from 2008 to 2012, according to a Philadelphia child advocacy group.

More than 10,250 of the 120,634 children in Chester County live in poverty, according to a report released last week by Public Citizens for Children and Youth. The percentage of children living in poverty in the county rose from 5.5 percent in 2008 to 8.5 percent in 2012, the group said.

In each of Chester County's 12 school districts during that time, the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals increased.

"What's happening in Chester County is what's being seen across the country," said Kathy Fisher, a director at the child advocacy group.

The report acknowledges children can overcome early financial hardship. "But," the report says, "we know all too well that children born into poverty are highly likely to remain poor as adults, contributing to the growing inequity in our communities."

- Michaelle Bond